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So Alamdar (my 3 years old son) saw a kitten in our car porch and started feeding him stuff. Kitten started playing with him. One day I came from home and saw them playing, I asked him do you have a pet now? Yes, he said. So I asked what is its name? He took a pause to think and came back with an answer – “Billi Ka Bachay.” I tried explaining him it would be bacha and not bachay, but he insisted on bachay. So it was named Billi ka bachay.


Few days later he went to a school fair and won a gold fish in some competition. Came back with his trophy and put in a bowl. When I asked him about the name, reply was – “Machli ka bachay”.

Whilst putting him to bed at night, I usually tell him a bed time story. He wanted to hear a story with a horse. So I came up with a story in which a prince named Alamdar was riding a horse. He immediately stopped me to ask me what horse’s name is. I said I don’t know, you tell me. Reply didn’t surprise me at all. It was – “Ghoray ka bachay”

As it turned out, kitten was run over by a car outside our home few days later. Last evening fish died as well. When he looked at the empty bowl, he asked me baba where is machli ka bachay. I said I was hungry so I ate it. I could sense his disappointment. He asked why didn’t I eat Nutella, so I replied I don’t like Nutella, and I was really hungry so I fried the fish and ate it. Ok, he said and went out to play with kitten.

Someone told him that the cat is killed. So he came back running and asked.

Baba, did you eat the billi kay bachay too?



Manto 1

I was telling a friend last night that dare I say, Manto (the movie) is better than Moor. Now Moor, comes from Jami, and he is someone I have tremendous respect for his ideas and work. And don’t get me wrong, I loved watching Moor. Manto comes from someone whose earlier work I have barely seen. The only time I remember seeing sultan Sarmad Khosat as an actor was in a sitcom. I have definitely not seen any of his work as a director. Before today, I had no clue he was director of the famous Hum TV play ‘Humsafar’. The point is, I had to think a few times before making that statement because it says a lot. What I actually wanted to say was, it is the best movie to have come out of Pakistan. I cannot say that because I simply don’t think I am qualified to say it. But I can definitely claim that Manto has raised the bar for local cinema. My initial hope is, that somehow it ends up making commercial sense so that movies like Manto, Moor and 021 keeping coming. If we as a country are still not ready for movies like these in 2015, then it is plain sadness.

Back to Manto, where to start. I am sitting here writing this review feeling like a fan so it is difficult to keep partiality out. The idea of watching a movie on a subject like Saadat Hassan Manto, a proclaimed anti-establishment rebellious figure known for his provocative work was always appealing to me. But to see the result in the form of this powerful, intense and dark movie is really an effort that deserves an standing ovation. This is a director’s movie. Sultan Sarmad as a director has got most things right. Art direction and production design is excellent. Film maintains a stunning look throughout in line with the period depicted. Use of various interesting camera angles and psychedelic treatment gives narration an edgy feel. Sultan Sarmad has made effective use of creative liberty to incorporate Manto’s short stories in the narrative in what is otherwise a biopic. They don’t seem forced or out of place.


He has also managed to extract great performances from his star cast which appear mostly in cameos. Nimra Bucha as Manto’s alter ego stands out. Her scenes with Khosat will haunt you even after the movie has finished. Nadia Afghan and Savera Nadeem as characters of Manto’s short stories also put in great efforts. Saba Qamar as Madam Noor Jehan gets mannerism right but is passable. Faisal Qureshi sparkles in a role which lasts hardly a minute. The chemistry between Sania Saeed (as Manto’s wife) and Sultan Sarmad is good but her character as Safia is one dimensional. Sultan Sarmad has excelled as an actor. He has managed portrayal of a complex character with aplomb and displays Manto’s anguish, desperation and mental failings in a restrained and controlled performance.

Manto, the movie has excellent sound track. The songs featuring Meesha Shafi ‘Meham Dilan de Mahi’ and Ali Sethi’s ‘Aah Ko Chahiye’ stand out. Music does not have period feel to it except where required but still gels well with the movie.

You can’t help but think about life of Manto when the movie is finished, and if that happens you know justice has been served. Must watch. 5 Stars.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Khaana Peena

So we are sitting at Karachi Darbar restaurant in Dubai with some colleagues from India, and some more NRI colleagues who are based in Dubai. It is a casual evening when both Pakistani and Indian sides are rather complementary to each other. It starts with an Indian guy starts humming ‘Purani jeans aur guitar’. They start praising Pakistani alternative music scene (which is almost non existent now) and we praised bollywood. It eventually turns to cricket and they cant help but laud Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar and of-course Imran Khan. We return the favor by acknowledging Sachin Tendulkar and admitting Saurav Ganguly did turn Indian cricket’s mentality around. Their were some worth remembering anecdotes of various cricket matches from both sides with language which cannot be reproduced here.

When it came to ordering, we Pakistani’s were given the honor of ordering the food since restaurant was ‘Karachi Darbar’, assuming we would know Pakistani food best. So we thought ‘Haleem’ and asked for their opinion, ‘what is haleem’ they responded. It surprised us as we thought it was an indian dish and India was being represented by North, South and Mumbai and none of them had a clue. Infact one of them thought its a Pakistani dish. Khair, it started an interesting exchange which went something like this.

  • Apparently there is a famous Karachi Halwa available in Mumbai, we the Karachites do not know of any famous halwa from Karachi.
  • We told them about various branches of Merath Kebab houses in Karachi. They said Merath is not popular for kebabs, in-fact one would struggle to find kebabs there. It is a city famous for manufacturing goods, kind of Sialkot in Pakistan.
  • There is a Karachi bakery in Indian Hyderabad, famous for biscuits, and a Bombay Bakery in Pakistani Hyderabad. The mumbai guy had no clue about Bombay Bakery’s specialties.
  • Apparently, Lahori murg is quite popular in Delhi, however, the Lahori chap on our side doesn’t actually knows if there is a particular dish called Lahori murg.
  •  A Karachite mentioned that Chef Zakir prepares excellent Delhi briyani, to which the Delhi guy responded that there is actually no such thing as Delhi briyani, however, Hyderabadi briyani is famous.
  • In the end, the funniest part was, that Karachi Darbar restaurant is actually owned by an Indian Malabari.

Bottom line is, they loved Haleem and Pakola, and we still don’t know where it came from originally.

One year.

It is around this time last year I received a call from ICU of hospital, asking me to reach there immediately. I had come back home barely an hour earlier having spent all day in the waiting area outside the ward. Basically going through motions, answering queries of relatives, friends and well-wishers. Holding on to the slimmest of hopes we could find from doctor’s updates. Six months and this was the first time I got a call from hospital, deep down I knew this is not good. I was worried I could not figure out who the caller was as he was not willing to divulge much, when you have a patient in hospital for 6 months; you manage to get to know most staff working there.

As luck would have it, I did not have a car at home. I called my sister who had just left my home little while ago to turn back and take me to hospital. She promptly did and within 15 minutes I was there. When I entered the ward, it surely was a new doctor as I was not familiar with him. He confirmed my name and as he just started talking I naturally turned to look at Baba’s bed and my heart sank looking at monitor. It showed straight lines instead of the ones I was used to seeing. This was just like movies. I noticed a nurse unplugging the equipment and then it occurred to me that it has happened, minutes before we reached there. My sister was talking to the nurse, reconfirming it while sobbing; I couldn’t hear what they were saying as all the sounds seem to come from far away. All I could hear was silence and all I could see was that visual from the monitor. I couldn’t gather myself to look at him, and I left the ward.

I felt numb. I tried to gather myself and thought of the stuff I had to do. I had to make a call to my cousin who about to board a plane, he had to be informed. I called him and he picked up and all I could manage to say was ‘ada’. I felt lost for words, how could I find adequate words for what just happened. I gathered all the strength to say it but could go past the word ‘ada’ again and broke down. Eventually he understood my speechlessness and said he is coming back. I then called up my elder brother to inform him and finally said it, “ada, baba has left us”. Whatever happened afterwards is of little consequence.  I had to make many more similar calls, with every call it started becoming more believable, words became easier to come.

It has been a year. I have learned to move on in life. I have learned to leave the regrets behind. But one regret which I am carrying, and will stay with me forever, is that I was not there in his last minutes. I don’t know, but what if he had opened his eyes to look out for someone of his own or to look out for me? I was not there when it mattered despite being there for last 6 months of his life. I was not there when it mattered most.

90’s Pictorial Film Rewind: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Warning: Fits of laughter to follow.


I know, I know. I am attempting to ruin your favourite film; don’t kill me. I like it too. It’s every desi’s favourite film. And, well, why shouldn’t it be? It’s over three fucking hours long, and god knows how we love to make up for the short things in our lives with long ass movies.

I have decided to rewind Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

DDLJ opens with a sad shot of fobby store owner London dad Baldev (Amrish Puri) feeding birds while reminiscing about India after having reached the stars in Vilayat.

Oh, and he’s totally trippin’ balls.

While uncle is busy seeing shapes in the sky, let me introduce you to his family.

Meet annoying smartass 12-year-old Chutki, who ideally should have been killed by Paresh Rawal in King Uncle, and max Punjabi mummy jee, Lajjo.

Of course, this family is uninteresting as shit without Simran, the teenage…

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This is post is basically…I am not sure what it is, but here it is.

I have 319 friends on Facebook. 319. Big number, for an introvert like me at-least. Many of them I have never even met or spoken to in real life. Some of them I have met occasionally, but never interacted with. Friends? Really?

Friends were what I had in School. We grew up together. 11 years in same school, mostly in same class. First day of new academic year meant you would know which friends would move to a different section. There used to be a tinge of sadness and sometimes surprise at the point of finding out. Little did we know this was beginning of what we would be going through most of our lives. About moving on.

Now that I think about school, it had various groups. A group which just played cricket. A group which watched and discussed cricket. A group which loved music and movies. A group which discussed politics or books. And somehow I was part of all of them. When high school finished, I ended up losing contact with most of them. Some lucky ones went to same college as me, rest dispersed. Most, I am not sure where they are.

Then there were those who friends outside schools. Neighbors or family friends. They tend to stay longer with you.  I don’t know if the bond is stronger because you bunk classes together or what, but somehow, we have managed to stay in touch. At least in the sense that I know their whereabouts, if nothing more.

University and onwards I have had even fewer friends. It has never been a conscious decision, but I guess I am not good at making them, or more so at not retaining them. The ones I am still able to call friends (and there aren’t many) are basically ones who have gone out of their way to stay in touch with me.

Yes, I am not right person to be friends with. I don’t follow up. I don’t catch up. It’s not like I don’t care. But I am just too lazy (you can also read douchebag).

At some levels, it is rather sad how we are not able to retain contacts despite these techy advances. Lots of friends have moved abroad. Having lived abroad I know how difficult it is to take time out from daily chores. These are valid excuses.

Worse excuse would be to realize we are not from same sect. It didn’t matter when we were young. Perhaps this is why they say ignorance is bliss.

Then you enter professional life and from time to time you meet people with whom you can sense a connection immediately. Sadly, like school, moving on part comes there too.

So, this is just to say thank you to everyone who has ever been a friend. To those who come in all the above mentioned categories. And to those who cannot be categorized at all.  

To those I have borrowed school lunches or cricket bats from. To those who have lent or have made music tapes for me. Also to those who never returned my audio/video tapes.  To those who picked up their phones just to be told that I have figured out a particular riff or chords of a song. To those who appreciated my writings even though I knew they were not worth much. To those who were there when there wasn’t much, and to those who were everything.

 Thank you guys, I may never say this to you on face (because we hardly ever meet, and figuratively also), but I do appreciate it. Life would not have been same without you all. May you all be happy, wherever you are.